Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, July 27, 1915: On Shackleton’s character

–from Thomas Orde Lees’s diary published as “Elephant Island and Beyond”–

“Sir Ernest has a wonderful character. . . . Whatever he says to his subordinates in approbation, in chiding, or in giving advice or information, is exactly what he really means, and at the same time he is always tactful without being in any way noticeably circumspect. He bears no resentment in private, nor is he ever guilty of the slightest favoritism. . . He is always careful to give his comrades the impression that he has absolute confidence in them, each in their own special sphere and yet he keeps a watchful eye on all.

“He always leaves them entirely to themselves to carry out their work as they think best. . . . The reliance he places in his subordinates is certainly by far the best incentive they can have to do their work conscientiously, and one always feels that if at any time it was not and that one was wanting in efficiency he would at once go right into the matter and appoint someone else to take over one’s job—the most awful reproach that could befall a member of an expedition.”


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